Saturday, February 23, 2008

Final Saturday Male Beauty

Christian Blog Bashes Peter LaBarbera's (and Others') Obsession with Homosexuality

I must admit that it is a bit refreshing to find that not all Christianists are totally obsessed solely with one’s sexual orientation. That is not to say that the ChristianResearchNetwork would be described as exactly gay friendly. Here’s what was said about Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, Peter LaBarbera’s latest vehicle and gimmick in making money off attacking gays (

I am trying really hard to figure out why Christians are so obsessed with letting the world know the truth behind homosexuality. If I felt like they were doing it because they cared deeply about the people who live the lifestyle, and want desperately for them to experience the life that God designed for them, I would not have a problem with all of it. However, that is certainly not the vibe I am getting from these sites. They are more concerned about winning their debate than facilitating life transformation in the hearts of homosexuals. It’s basically saying “we don’t care about you, but we want you to know that we completely disagree with your lifestyle.” And why is it just homosexuality. They act as if that is the BIG sin in the scriptures, dismissing all other destructive behaviors and choices. . . . I don’t think that’s what God was hoping we would become.
In answer to the question, at least in terms of Peter LaBarbera with whom I have had heated e-mail debates in the pst, I posted the following comment on the blog:
Why? Three reasons in my view: (1) MONEY - almost Peter’s entire “career” has been based on bad mouthing gays and making money off it in the process; (2) POLITICS – to fight against gay rights and non-discrimination, it is essential that Peter and those like him continue to maintain the myth that sexual orientation is a matter of choice; (3) CLOSET CASE – in my experience, only those with severe issues with their own sexual orientation get as hysterical over homosexuality as LaBarbera does. As an aside, I would also note that LaBarbera has real issues when in comes to not parroting information that he knows is untrue if it furthers his anti-gay agenda.

Thailand's Gay Past

As further proof that same sex love and attraction has existed for throughout the ages and not just in western countries, this article from the Bangkok Post ( offers some interesting proof. No doubt, the Christianist will say it's all because the subjects of the art work had not heard the "saving Gospel message." Here are some highlights:

Mention homosexuality and many Thais will blame it on recent Western influences. Ask Varaporn Vichayarath what she thinks, however, and she would simply smile before providing a list of old temples with murals depicting same-sex courtship. es, homosexual courtship between both men and women. And yes, at temples.

"Contrary to conservative beliefs, homosexuality has long existed in our society, as evidenced by these mural paintings," said Varaporn, a book editor who has researched the topic. Varaporn recently presented her findings at Thailand's first ever national conference on sexuality and sexual diversity, where she displayed photographs of murals painted on old temples in various parts of Thailand.

The ordination hall of Phra Sing Temple in Chiang Mai, meanwhile, houses murals inspired by the popular folk tale Sang Thong, not the life of the Buddha as in most other temples. Interestingly, these murals show homosexuality to be part of local life, be it in the court or the village. One of these beautiful paintings depicts a group of nymphs (nang fah) caressing one another. Two other murals detail gay courtship; one in which two princes have romantically locked eyes while on a journey to marry their princesses, another in which two young village men hold each other in a loving embrace. All the murals are on the right wall after the entrance.

During the reign of King Rama V, the country adopted Western laws making sodomy illegal. Those laws were repealed in 1956. The silence on same-sex relationships, which has contributed to various forms of discrimination against homosexuals, is actually a recent social phenomena, said Varaporn. "We can see this by going back to our temples and our mural paintings," she said.

The reality is that gays are every where, in societies around the world and all throughout time - whether the wingnut fundies like to admit it or not.

More Saturday Male Beauty

Discrimination Results in $20,000 Bill In Rollback Property Taxes

Some time ago I did a post about a religious organization in New Jersey, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which was facing the possible loss of its tax exempt status for real estate tax purposes due to its refusal to allow two lesbian couples to have their civil union ceremonies in the pavilion. That action has finally resulted in the tax exemption in fact being rescinded and the Meeting Association being presented with a bill for retroactive taxes in the amount of $20,000.00 ( Clearly, in this case discrimination has a price.

When I posted my earlier comments on this story, I received several e-mails from those who thought that it was an outrage that the Meeting Association had to participate in something it did not endorse in order to keep its tax exemption. I disagreed with their analysis then and believe the correct result has been achieved. The Meeting Association knew that in order to receive the exemption, its facility had to be open and available to all. By its own conduct the Meeting Association proved that such was not the case. Actions have often consequences. What I find most humorous and ironic is that those who supported the continued exemption for the Meeting Association - and others who continue to be outraged as the Boy Scouts are stripped of sweet heart deals due to the organization’s non-inclusive policies - is that these folks don’t like living by the standards they apply when the shoe is on the other foot.

A great example of this is what happened some years back when various artists were not being approved for funding by the National Endowment for the Arts based on the content of their art which some found (often correctly) offensive to some religious beliefs. At the time, the artists alleged they were being censored and that their First Amendment rights were being curtailed. In response Christianist types pointed out that the artists could do whatever they wanted with no impact on their freedom of speech/expression, just do not expect public funding to underwrite it. Yet, when the tables are turned and groups discriminate based on religious belief they somehow believe that the public should underwrite their discriminatory actions. True to form, they want a double standard – one for them and a different one for everyone else. At best this is intellectually disingenuous and at worst it is sheer hypocrisy. The correct view is that when one takes public, tax derived funding, there ARE strings attached, namely that one loses the right to discriminate or to produce religiously offensive art as the case may be. If you want to be free to do whatever you want, the answer is very simple: do not take the public funding, or in the case of the Meeting Association, the tax exemption. You do not get to have it both ways. Here are some brief story highlights:

OCEAN GROVE — The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association will have to pay about $20,000 in rollback property taxes for the boardwalk pavilion, the township tax assessor has determined. Assessor Bernard Haney said Friday that he calculated the pavilion's taxes to be about $6,500 a year for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The pavilion had been part of the association's boardwalk and beachfront property that was part of a state Green Acres tax abatement program. The association has not paid property taxes on the property since the program was established. But controversy last year over the association's refusal to allow two lesbian couples to have their civil union ceremonies in the pavilion led the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the Green Acres program, to re-evaluate the association's application this year. DEP commissioner Lisa Jackson decided that because the pavilion was apparently not open to all on an equal basis — a requirement of the tax abatement program — she would not allow the pavilion to be included.

Brazil Dances With OPEC

Wearing my former oil company in-house counsel hat, I blogged last year about the huge oil discovery off shore from Brazil and the production potential which would allow Brazil to become a major player in the world economy. Obviously, there will be a significant development period before Brazil will be able to ramp up production from the new discoveries, but whether or not Brazil joins OPEC is significant because it will decide whether or not Brazilian production will exist as a counter weight to OPEC and Middle Eastern oil. Regardless of Brazil decides to do via-a-vis OPEC, the USA needs to finally get serious about finding ways to decrease its dependence on imported oil. The chatter has been going on since the early 1970’s and very little has actually been done. The one time trend to smaller fuel efficient cars died years ago as soccer moms [yes I disdain them for many reasons, not the least of which is their political idiocy as they worry about insignificant matters in the grand scheme of things] drive about in gas guzzling four wheel drive behemoths like Suburbans, Tahoes, and Hummers to name a few. Brazil’s increased economic clout also shows why the USA needs to start developing a responsible policy towards South America. Here some highlights from a new CNN story (

NEW YORK ( -- OPEC, the 13-nation cartel that has a huge influence over oil prices, may be expanding farther into South America. News that the largest economy in Latin America (see correction below) was considering joining OPEC began to swirl late last year shortly after Brazil announced the discovery of huge offshore oil and gas deposits that could turn the country into a major oil exporter. Politicians, including President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, said the country would consider membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as soon as the export potential from the new fields is evaluated. Analysts say Brazil is serious about joining, and its membership could push crude prices higher as more oil would be under OPEC control, but that membership and significant crude exports from the country won't happen anytime soon. Brazil's interest in joining OPEC is the political clout that membership brings.

"To the extent they are able to present themselves as an international powerhouse, that plays favorably at home," said Christopher Garman, head of the Latin American division at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy. OPEC membership would also give Brazil a tremendous boost in clout on the world scene, with a seat at the table of an organization that controls some 40% of global oil production. If oil prices fall, Brazil could help prop them up by voting to cut production in all OPEC countries, a far more powerful lever than simply cutting production on their own.

Brazilian membership would also bring more oil to OPEC, at a time when oil resources from non-OPEC sources - such as Mexico and the North Sea - run dry. The new discoveries could turn the country into an export powerhouse. The Tupi oil field off the country's central coast is thought to contain 5 to 8 billion barrels of oil and gas, and would boost the country's total reserves by about 50%. And Brazilian officials have said other offshore fields could ultimately leave the country with 80 to 100 billion barrels of proven reserves, one of the largest in the world.

Saturday Male Beauty

Subprime Loans Defaulting Even Before Resets

This story from CNN ( illustrates why it is foolish to “let the market” decide and police itself. Don’t take this statement to mean that I am a big government liberal. It only is pragmatic and faces the business reality that where there is an opportunity to make fast money, there will ALWAYS be some who abuse the system and work it to their own advantage with no concern for the consequences of others. The mortgage loan industry is no exception and the fact that loans were bundled and resold to foolish/greedy investors left the main players in creating the mess free from consequences since the risk had been transferred to other investors. Had mortgage companies had to hold the loans they originated in the own portfolios, I suspect that sensible underwriting standards would not have been thrown to the wind. Given the fact that what happens in the housing market significantly impacts the larger economy, I believe that we are in for a very rough ride as increased numbers of foreclosures force home values down even further. Here are some story highlights:

For months, we've fretted about the Armageddon that will hit when subprime adjustable rate mortgages start resetting to much higher interest rates. What's happening is even worse: Many of these loans are defaulting well before their rates increase. Defaults for subprime loans issued in 2007 - none of which have reset yet - hit 11.2 percent in November. That represents perhaps 300,000 households, and is twice the default rate that 2006 loans had 10 months after being issued, according to Friedman, Billings Ramsey analyst Michael Youngblood. Defaults are spiking well before resets come into play thanks to the lax lending environment of the past few years. Many borrowers were approved for mortgages that they had little chance of affording, even at the low-interest teaser rates.

In late 2006, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), predicted that 2.2 million subprime ARM borrowers would lose their homes in the following two years due to reset shock. But these mortgages were doomed from the start. For instance, in both 2006 and 2007, well over 40 percent of subprime borrowers were awarded mortgages with either little or no documentation of their ability to pay. With these so-called "liar loans," borrowers did not have to show proof of either earnings or assets. In 2007 subprime originations, the DTI hit 42.1 percent, up from 41.1 percent in 2006. Borrowers were simply taking on more debt that they could afford. What's more, many borrowers started out with low- or no-down payment loans, which left them with almost no equity in their home. During the boom, rapid price appreciation meant borrowers built up home equity quickly. That minimized defaults, since owners could draw from that equity to pay their bills - including their mortgages - through home equity loans. But prices fell starting in 2006,leaving borrowers with less home equity to draw upon when they run into financial problems.

But instead of cutting back on risky loans, lenders kept lending. Why? "Because investors continued to buy the loans," said Doug Duncan, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Despite their quality, subprime mortgages were as profitable as any other for lenders like Countrywide (CFC, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), who were able to quickly securitize the loans and sell them in the secondary market. The loans sold easily because they carried the promise of high yields. "As long as you could sell the loan, you made the deal," Duncan said.

Postscript to The Journey Out of the Closet After Years of Marriage

One of my readers left a comment on yesterday's post that does a wonderful job of further elaborating upon the point that I was trying to make and which recognizes that coming out after many years of marriage is very traumatic for BOTH the gay and straight spouse because love did exist between them, even if not fully complete due to neither party's fault. That reality can lead to great feelings of guilt and failure on the part of the gay spouse who feels responsibility for the marriage ending. I know I certainly suffered from it for a long, long period of time. Gays who have never been in the closet or who were never married to a straight spouse truly do not seem to understand the phenomenon. In retrospect, had I stayed in the marriage, I would not have been true to myself nor would I have been honest with my former wife. A "glass wall" would always have separated us as I tried to maintain my secret. A winless situation. I truly hope that as society becomes less homophobic in general, fewer gays will feel compelled to marry and set both themselves and their spouses up for great anguish and hurt. Here's my reader's comment:
Michael, it's important to also acknowledge the fact that although something was lacking in the relationship, there was a loyalty, dedication and a loving relationship that was built upon. Ultimately, it was not truly fulfilling, but still you must admit that there was a love -- it just wasn't the kind that would keep the marriage together. Too many people seem to think the entire purpose was to deliberately hide. It might be for some, but for others, it is part of the searching oneself out to find out what you need in your lifelong relationship. It is important to realize and acknowledge this because if not, then truly the intent was to use the spouse for a selfish purpose. In short-lived relationships, it is probably the case, but when the relationship lasts for as many years as yours did and produces three wonderfully well adjusted children, it can only be the result of a loving relationship. I might be naive or a bit jaded, but, there are good people who can love both men and women. Ultimately, in some cases, one desire wins over the other. I'm glad you acknowledge the loving relationship -- and the hurt that occurred on both sides.

Friday, February 22, 2008

More Friday Male Beauty

Dying Lesbian's Partner Denied Access To Her In Hospital

I try to stress to my LGBT clients the need to have proper medical powers of attorneys, financial powers of attorney and, of course, wills in place to insure that a nightmare like the one that befell Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond as related in this story from ( does not occur. The cost is not overwhelming - and get some comparative quoteseven - and having the proper documents in place can avert total disaster. Some employers even offer prepaid legal plans as an employee benefit that can make the cost even more affordable. Here are some story highlights:

But just as they were about to depart on the cruise from Miami, Florida. Pond, a healthy 39-year-old, suddenly collapsed. She was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami with Langbehn and the children following close behind. But once Langbehn and the children arrived at the hospital the hospital refused to accept information from her about Ponds’s medical history. Langbehn says she was informed that she was in an antigay city and state, and she could expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as family. A doctor finally spoke with Janice telling her that there was no chance of recovery.
Soon after Pond'’s death, Langbehn tried to get her death certificate in order to get life insurance and Social Security benefits for their children. She was denied both by the State of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner. With the help of Lambda Legal Langbehn has notified Jackson Memorial Hospital that she intends to file a lawsuit.
Again, a proper will and medical power of attorney could have avoided this nighmare. When traveling, LBGT couples should always carry a valid medical power of attorney for each member of the couple. Likewise, if both parents are not their children's legal guardian, a medical power of attorney shouls be granted by the legal parent to the other partner. I hope people will learn from Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond's misfortune.

The Journey Out of the Closet After Years of Marriage

I was talking by telephone with a friend and fellow gay blogger from a mid-western state yesterday who is roughly my age. We have talked a number of times and he’s checked on me at times during my divorce wars when he was worried about how I was holding up. He and his wife are finally moving towards a divorce after three years of living in the same house in an armed truce status. He was headed to a meeting at the attorney’s office to move the divorce process forward and not surprisingly, his emotions were all over the place: part excitement, part sadness, part fear, etc. A couple of remarks he made struck home with me in particular. Namely his feelings for his soon to be ex-wife and the hurt she was feeling, not to mention her comment that she guessed she’d grow old alone.

I think the hardest thing to convey to the straight spouse in a couple that is headed to divorce after many years of marriage is that you, the gay spouse, never intended to hurt them and do in fact feel great remorse for the pain you have caused them. In fact, you do want your straight spouse to be happy and wish you could spare them pain. Now that my own divorce is behind me, I can honestly say that once again I hope my former wife finds happiness. She is not a bad person and, while she had some nasty anti-gay advisors and perhaps lashed out at me out of fear about her future, I never, ever meant to hurt her. Hopefully, someday she will understand that.

Perhaps from the straight spouse’s perspective, the gay spouse’s staying in the closet, getting married, having children and struggling to live a straight life is viewed as a selfish act. But this friend, like me, did not know what else to do. It’s not as if either he or I set out to maliciously deceive and hurt our wives. The fear of family rejection, societal scorn, and risk of losing one’s job can simply be an overpowering motivation to try to be what everyone expects and wants. In addition - and also like me - he had his religious beliefs pushing him to think that he could somehow make the same sex attractions and emotional draw toward other guys go away. Obviously, it was and is an exercise in futility, but neither of us knew that at the time we began down the closeted paths we followed.

It took my therapist a long time to beat it into my head that it was not my fault that I was gay or that I eventually could not continue the pretense of being someone/something I was not. I hope my friend – and others going through the coming out process later in life after years of marriage can take that message to heart. It is no one’s fault. Each of us merely did what we thought was required/best based on the circumstances in which we found ourselves. We did nothing wrong.

Friday Male Beauty

GLSEN Responds to Time Magazine Misrepresentations on School Violence

The other day I posted concerning the Time Magazine story on the murder of 15 year old Lawrence King wherein the author, John Cloud, made it sound like most gay middle and high school students breeze on through school with few issues and minimal harrassment. Life according to Cloud for gay students borders on sweetness and light. In the process Mr. Cloud cited statistics from various studies. I was so disgusted with Cloud's misrepresentation of the true reality for LGBT students that I sent a letter to the editor of Time Magazine. Now GLSEN is reponding to Cloud's inaccuracies as reported in the Washington Blade ( Time needs to correct the inaccurate picture depicted by Mr. Cloud. Here are some highlights of GLSEN responses (in bold face) to Cloud's story:
According to another GLSEN survey released the same year (actually the next year, though they both are called 2005 reports) only 18% of gay and transgender students said they had ever been assaulted because of their sexual orientation (only 12% - probably many of the same kids - said they had been assaulted because of the way they express their gender).
Yes, 18% of LGBT students reported being physically assaulted in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. As a researcher, I find this statistic an extremely serious indicator of school climate for this population. First, it is about recent experiences, those experienced in the past school year. Second, the type of victimization this includes is quite severe: being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon. The fact that one in five LGBT students had experienced this severe type of victimization in the past year is staggering. Remember, Lawrence King was injured and then killed with a weapon.
And of those who had been harassed or assaulted, more than one-fifth - 22% - said the incident wasn't serious enough to report.

This is a misrepresentation of the findings. First of all, the 22% is of a subset of those students who chose not to report the harassment to school personnel (60%). Thus, of all students, only about 1 in 10 who experienced harassment said that it was not serious enough to report (that’s 60% of 22% equaling 13%). The author fails to point out that the larger number of students who did not report harassment said that they believed that the school staff would not do anything about it (32%) or that a similar percentage to the one he reported was of students who said they feared negative repercussions for reporting their victimization (18%). That is a much less rosy picture of high school.
What the author is referring to is the percentage of students who report that reporting the incident(s) to school staff was not at all effective. In addition, another quarter of students said that it was somewhat ineffective. Thus, less than half (43%) of students said that telling school personnel when they were harassed or assaulted made a difference. Less than half.

Did Hillary Plagiarize Her Moving Closing Statement Last Night?

Personally, I think Hillary has made a mountain out of a mole hill in terms of Obama's use of some lines from Duval Patrick speech - especially since Obama and Patrick are friends and Patrick is one of Obama's advisors. More over, Obama used similar lines back in his 2004 address to the Democratic Convention. There are surely more important issues to discuss. In any event, some are now saying that Hillary has set herself up for allegations. You be the judge:

Clinton Last Night: "You know, whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people. And that's what this election should be about." - Democratic Debate, 2/21/07
John Edwards: "What's not at stake are any of us. All of us are going to be just fine no matter what happens in this election. But what's at stake is whether America is going to be fine." - Democratic Debate, 12/13/07
John Edwards: "I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a millworker's gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine." - Edwards Speech, 1/30/08

From America Blog:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Thursday Male Beauty

Why Hillary is Losing - In Addition to Being the Lesser Candidate

I have been critical of Hillary Clinton's campaign on a number of occassions. Perhaps having worked on a number of campaigns and having had the opportunity to see a portion of Obama's ground troops in action (the Tidewater field coordinator and others worked out of my office for the better part of two days), the plan and simple truth is that Hillary's staff is doing an absolutely horrendous job when it comes to getting the local grass roots organization up and running. Campaign events and turn out do not happen all by themselves. Much planning and coordination is required. That seems to be where Hillary's campign just doesn't seem to know what it's doing as highlighted by Mayhill Fowler's column on the Huffington Post ( Here are some highlights:
Although the Clinton Campaign has been telling the press that they have the ground operations to pull off a win in Texas, those ground operations have not been in evidence when I've traveled to small towns to see how Bill Clinton is doing on the Texas stump. Wednesday evening in Victoria, down in the southeastern part of the state, incipient chaos threatened to overwhelm the "Early Vote" Rally precisely because there was no ground operation. The well-oiled, beautifully constructed state-level HRC campaign machine, focused and determined in Iowa, Nevada and California, is beginning to break down.
"It's a clusterfuck! Just a clusterfuck!" the Corpus Christi producer for a local news affiliate shouts into his cell phone. He's telling his boss that there will be no coverage of Bill Clinton's visit to Victoria for the 6 o'clock news. "Who's running this campaign anyway?" the producer asks, of no one in particular. "And now five hundred people have stomped away mad." He shakes his head.
The debacle in Victoria illustrates why a ground operation is important. The details of planning have been left to a local volunteer, and she has been overwhelmed. How was she to know the needs of the live press? Or that live press often arrive before the print media? (This confusion led to some journalists being locked out.) Or the possibility of having to entertain a restive audience, because this former president typically runs very late? But the anger of the locals was nothing compared to that of the Texas press. The press had been waiting for hours, too; it had taken time to lay cables and run through all the fussing and tweaking cameramen typically do. And when the press trudged out the auditorium doors, they discovered that their umbrellas, which had been confiscated as some kind of security measure (the only one), had been appropriated, undoubtedly by the disgruntled locals.
More importantly, there was no Clinton organizer on the ground ahead-of-time in Victoria to make the right decision about the venue and to have the clout to tell Bill Clinton and his entourage, when they arrived, that moving the rally to the street was a bad idea. Poor decision-making likely cost Hillary Clinton more than a few votes in Victoria.

Lillian Vernon, Sharper Image File Bankruptcy - Won't Be The Last, Analysts Say

Further proving that the U. S. economy is tanking, Virginia Beach based Lilian Vernon and The Sharper Image have filed bankruptcy this week. More significantly, analysts expect many other retailers to follow suit with associated job loses, which in turn creates an ever widening ripple effect. Meanwhile, the housing market remains in a free fall in many areas. Yet the GOP focuses on troops in Iraq for 100 years instead of noticing what's happening at home. Yesterday on MSNBC, Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U. S. News and World Reports commented that we are headed for the worse economy in over 40 years. Here are some highlights from the Houston Chronicle (.
NEW YORK — A weak holiday season and a struggling economy led retailers Sharper Image Corp. and Lillian Vernon Corp. to file for bankruptcy this week, and analysts predict others could soon follow them as consumer spending worsens. "You'll see a record number of bankruptcies over the next 50, 100 and 1,000 days," said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of the New York-based retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. "Consumers are cash and credit constrained. They're out of purchasing power."
Flickinger said the problem is partly food and fuel inflation. While consumers used to pay 10 cents of every dollar for food and fuel, they now pay up to 20 cents per dollar. "Companies are contracting and collapsing," he said. "You'll see it in food and drug, discount and department stores as well as specialty stores and dollar stores. Every major form of retailing."

Thursday Male Beauty

As Economy Slips, Yacht Sales Skyrocket

This ABC News story ( gives a perfect glimpse at the priorities of the Chimperator's economic view. To Hell with the middle class as long as yacht sales go trough the roof. As numerous stories to date have note, the disparity in incomes is widening in the USA and in some cases looks more like what might be expected in a second rate banana republic. Meanwhile, most in the GOP appear oblivious - or uncaring - as to what is happening. No wonder 75% of the population believes the country is headed in the wrong direction. Here are some story highlights:
Forget all the talk about mortgage foreclosures and a looming recession. Instead, close your eyes and imaging yourself on a boat sailing the Caribbean. Not just any boat, but a megayacht that is two to three times the size of your house. On board is every luxury you could ever imaging. You can lounge in a Jacuzzi on the top deck while you or your crew barbecue. Prefer something less casual? No problem, a deck or two down is your formal dinning room with a table that seats 12. Your master suite is large enough to accommodate a king-size bed, walk-in closet and of course your own private bathroom with another Jacuzzi. Fine marble and woodworking adorn every corner of the yacht.

Ready to buy? It will cost you $30 million and up. And don't expect to get your yacht any time soon; there is such demand today for these over-the-top boats that it could take four years before you ever set sail. That's right, while the U.S. economy slows — if not enters a recession — the demand for these toys for the ultrarich has never been stronger. Several luxury shipyards have seen sales double in the last five years. The rich are not just buying more yachts, but larger and larger ones.
But everything is not perfect for the owner of today's megayacht. For one, Buckley said, while shipyards have been ramping up operations to meet the explosive growth, there has not been a similar growth in good crews. Many owners are having trouble finding the people to man their ship. Then there is the issue of where to put the yachts when in port. Buckley said that the popular ports in Monaco, Saint Tropez and Corsica simply don't have room for these ever-larger yachts. They could be anchored offshore and the owners could get to town on smaller tender boats. But Buckley points out that if you own one of these yachts, "you want to be seen."

Norfolk-Virginia Beach Area [Mis]Crowned Least Stressed of Nation's 50 Biggest Cities

In yet another example of how statistics do not tell the whole story, according to BizJournals, the online division of a large publisher of business newspapers, living in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area has less stress than 49 other metropolitan areas. But there is more to life than a low murder rate low, currently modest unemployment, lower housing prices than in some regions of the country, and sometimes less arduous communtes. We also lack in many cultural amenities, have a large segment of the population that qualify as backward, religious lunatic Neanderthals that more than offset the moderate weather. Plus, we have the daily embarrassment of having Pat Robertson as one of our more infamous residents. And of course, if one is gay, the majority feel the need to live semi-closeted to keep their jobs and avoid neighborhood disapproval.

Personally, I might rather have a bit more stress in order to have less of the Christian Coalition mindset predominate much of the area. Remenber, Christianist Mike Huckabee won the vote count against John McCain in neighboring Chesapeake, Virginia. It's pretty sad that in an area of over 1.5 million people, I am the only openly gay attorney that I know of. Here are portions of the Virginian Pilot's story (
According to bizjournals, the online division of a large publisher of business newspapers, we live in the land of little worries, mon. The Web site has crowned the Virginia Beach-Norfolk area as the least stressed of the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas. Compared with places such as Detroit (the absolute abyss of stress, bizjournals says), New York City (the eighth-most stressful) and Richmond (34th), we've got it made in the sun.

Our air is clean, our murder rate low. Unemployment is modest, as is the percentage who write mortgage checks for $3,000 or more. Our commutes aren't arduous. And more often than not, it's a bright, bright sunshiny day. Stats came from the EPA, the FBI and other organizations.
Interestingly enough, Forbes has done a recent story on "America's Most Miserable Cities ( and many cities that would rank more gay friendly get bad ratings, largely due to cost of living, commute times, tax rates, etc. Thus, it appears misery is partly in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Obama Slams Politicians Who Use Gays To Divide

A number of blogs are reporting on Barack Obama's comments last night while speaking in Houston to a 20,000+ crowd wherein he slammed those who use gays as scapegoats and/or to promote divisive politics. Towleroad has a video clip here: The reality is that he has made this or similar statements at least several times during speeches before huge audiences some of which such as last night's which were televised nationwide. He made such a statement at the rally in Virginia Beach that I attended and I actually teared up a bit when he said it. I have yet to hear Hillary make any similar statements outside of interviews with the gay press which do not get wide public exposure and do not get picked up by the MSM. Specifically, Obama stated the following last night:
"I know how easy it is for politicians to turn us on each other, to use immigrants or gay people or folks who aren't like us as scapegoats for what they do."
Meanwhile, while references to and statements concerning gay issues are easily found and mentioned on Obama's campaign website, a perusal of Hillary's website makes it appear that LGBT individuals are either invisible or do not exist. If there is such a page on her site, I'd appreciate it if someone could direct me to it. Not surprisingly - at least to me - numerous Hillary supporters have left nast comments about Obama on the Towleroad webpage. If Hillary will not publicly acknowledge our existence to a national audience, I have to wonder how her supporters expect that she will actually help us.

New Pro-Clinton 527 to Work to Slime Obama in Ohio

With each new dirty trick or sleazy anti-Obama allegation, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is making it increasingly impossible for me to vote for her should she by some miracle become the Democratic Party nominee. Perhaps if her team had not run what increasingly appears to have been an utterly incompetent campaign guided largely by some bizarre sense that Hillary had some divine right to the nomination, sleaze bag tactics would not be required now. As for Bill Clinton’s behavior, don’t even get me started on what I think of the man. Suffice it to say, he is narcissistic and self-absorbed and I’d have more respect for Hillary if she had divorced his sorry ass years ago. I shudder to contemplate what garbage this 527 will endeavor to throw at Obama based on this story from ABC News ( about the “American Leadership Project (ALP).” So far, Hillary’s attack ads seem to have boomeranged and hurt her as opposed to Obama. I hope that trend continues. Here are some highlights:

ABC News has learned that a group of Democratic politicos have set up a new independent 527 organization called the American Leadership Project (ALP) with the express purpose of helping Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, beat Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in Ohio, and possibly Texas and Pennsylvania as well.

Free from campaign finance rules, ALP will not be legally permitted to coordinate with the Clinton campaign, but it is clearly intended to help her. The group is targeting through TV ads, mail, and phone communications white women under 50 in the Ohio area -- specifically Cleveland, Columbus, Youngstown, Charleston (WV), Wheeling- Steubenville, Zanesville, and Parkersburg (WV).

ALP has developed three ads aimed at pushing the idea that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is a talker and not a doer -- the ads are called “If speeches could solve problems" -- and they will contrast Obama and Clinton on issues of importance to middle class voters, such as the economy, health care, and the mortgage crisis. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic this morning first reported that a pro-Clinton 527 had been set up. Per Ambinder, the group is "canvassing Clinton donors for pledges of up to $100,000 in the hope of raising at least $10M by the end of next week.

Uganda Anglicans Threaten To Secede From Global Church

I find it telling that member churches of the Anglican Communion in countries that are in many ways absolute hell holes with countless severe problems, including poverty, disease, and murderous and corrupt governments to name a few, continue to be more concerned with condemning gays than tending to the dire needs of their flocks. What happened to Christ's directives to feed the hungry, attend to the poor, etc.? Either the leaders of these churches are jockeying for power or they are extreme self-hating closet case. No one is THAT obsessed with sexual orientation unless they have serious issues of their own. One can only hope that the Anglican Communion will have the courage to say good bye and good riddance. Here are some highlights from (
(Kampala) Uganda's Anglican church is threatening to secede from the 77-million member Anglican Communion unless U.S. clergy condemn homosexuality. Last week, Uganda's Anglican bishops said they would boycott a once-a-decade gathering of worldwide church leaders this summer in England because of the Episcopal Church's stance on homosexuality.

Mwesigye said the Ugandan church is now considering a complete severing of ties "because we have complained against homosexuality several times but no action is taken." "If they don't change, and continue to support homosexual practices and same-sex marriages, our relationship with them will be completely broken," Mwesigye added.
Tensions between more liberal and conservative branches of Anglicanism mounted in 2006 with the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports ordaining gays, as the first female leader of the U.S. church. Mwesigye said that if the Uganda church does break off, it will enlist other African churches to form a separate fellowship that does not condone homosexuality.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Ex-Gay Quacks Struggle to Counter Crackdowns on Their Fraudulent Programs

I posted yesterday concerning the new video series by Truth Wins Out that focus on the fraudulent ex-gay ministries that prey on gays and their families for ulterior political purposes and profit. Unfortunately, these “ministries” and those who promote them will not be closed down easily. For example, Warren Throckmorton, a professor at ultra-conservative Grove City College and others have formed the American Association of Christian Counselors (“AACC”) to (1) lend the appearance of legitimacy to their ex-gay “cure” programs and (2) resist efforts by legitimate mental health related associations to ban ex-gay reparative therapy programs.

One example of what Throckmorton – with whom I have had numerous e-mail debates for a number of years and who, in my opinion, is a religious fanatic – seeks to thwart is the Ethics Committee of the American Counseling Association’s (“ACA”) issuance of an opinion which directly questioned the ethical conduct of referring clients to therapists who work with their counselees to live according to a Christian view of sexuality. More specifically, the opinion designated a gay affirmative approach as the only correct ethical stance. What really got Throckmorton’s panties in a knot is this finding by the ACA Ethics Committee:

Conversion therapy as a practice is a religious, not psychologically-based, practice. The premise of the treatment is to change a client's sexual orientation. The treatment may include techniques based in Christian faith-based methods such as the use of "testimonials, mentoring, prayer, Bible readings, and Christian weekend workshops."

The American Psychological Association is considering taking a similar stand as that taken by the ACA. Obviously, this would drive Throckmorton, et al, out of a very lucrative business. Perhaps equally importantly, it would make it much more difficult for the Christianists to continue to claim that sexual orientation is a matter of choice which can be changed. Never mind that the ACA finding hits upon the true nature of these alleged cure programs. Christianists never let the truth get in the way of their true agenda.

As a result, Throckmorton is looking for current ACA members or credentialed and licensed mental health professionals to join him as he submits his formal letter of complaint ( to the ACA. Worse yet, Throckmorton’s group is working with the Alliance Defense Fund and Liberty Counsel, both extreme fundamentalist Christian legal organizations, to threaten and intimidate the ACA into backing down. Of course the irony is that in a June 2003 APA Journal article authored by Throckmorton it was conceded that a review of the various studies on ex-gay conversion programs failed to show proof that any of them actually worked.

As Wayne Besen has noted, “predictably, the signers of the letter are disingenuously claiming religious discrimination. They don't seem to realize that their professional rejection stems from the objective reasoning that their theories are illegitimate garbage.”

Time Magazine's Delusional View of Gay High School Life

The main stream media has finally done as story on the Lawrence King murder. Sadly, the article in Time Magazine (,8599,1714214,00.html) is in my view less than sympathetic to the abuse suffered by gays on a regular basis and the article’s author, John Cloud, seems to be living in a delusional Never Never Land. The entire tone and outlook of the article is that anti-gay abuse and bullying is not the norm and that Lawrence King’s experience was some incredibly rare aberration. Would that the world that Mr. Cloud thinks exists in his mind existed in reality. It surely does not exist in most areas of the USA – certainly not in most of the South. I was sufficiently disturbed that I wrote the following letter to the editor of Time, which no doubt will ever see the light of day:

I was shocked by some of John Cloud’s conclusions, particularly the statement that “the [National Gay and Lesbian] Task Force is exaggerating the frequency of assaults on gay kids, the vast majority of whom make it through school safe and happy.”

As an older gay male, let me assure Mr. Cloud that surviving high school as a gay student even when one is in the closet is not easy and the psychological scars last for decades if not for life. The higher incidence of suicide, psychological problems, drug and/or alcohol abuse among many LGBT students is one of the direct consequences. If blacks, Jews, and other minority groups had to put up with what LGBT students experience on a regular basis, there would be wide scale outrage something would be done and quickly. Anti-gay abuse seems to be one of the last remaining forms of prejudice and discrimination that gets a wink and a nod, but no real remedial action.
Perhaps my statements are on the strong side, but for the record I STILL recall from time to time being beat up a few times and harrassed more often for being a"faggot" during my junior-senior high school days even though I never concede that I was gay.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Lessons and Warnings From Lawrence King's Murder

Judy Chiasson, Coordinator of Human Relations, Diversity, and Equity for the Los Angeles Unified School District has some pertinent observations over at the Bilerico Project ( about the murder last week of Lawrence King, a gay student. Moreover, she has opinions on who is ultimately responsible for his murder in addition to the actual shooter, Brandon McInerney. True, the Christianists who work diligently to inflame anti-gay hatred will deny responsibility and try to depict McInerney as the sole party responsible. But in Chiasson's view and in my view, the Christianists are just as guilty as McInerney because without the posionous atmosphere they engender, people like McInerney would not feel free to harrass, bully, or in this case, execute gays. Here are highlights of Chiasson's comments:
Here in southern California where I live, Lawrence’s murder at an Oxnard middle school sent a huge tremor of horror through students and educators – precisely because the Los Angeles Unified School District was probably the first in the country to see the problem coming, and to attempt to do something about it. Let’s face it – 15-year-old Lawrence wasn’t just killed, he was assassinated. Fourteen-year-old Brandon McInerney walked right up to him in the computer lab and put bullets into his head, hit-man style. The message couldn’t be clearer.
But America is still in the hand-wringing stage -- still pretending like we don't know what we have to do. It’s clear that educators, families, communities, churches and law enforcement must all share the huge responsibility for stopping this terrible trend. In my opinion, the place to start stopping it is right at school.
News reports indicate that King was bullied not only at E. O. Green Junior High but a previous school as well. Law enforcement may have to investigate whether other kids at the school egged McInerney on, or knew that something was coming down. At lunch the day before the murder, a student was overheard telling King that he’d better watch his back. McInerney himself was heard to say that the next day would be King’s last. That tells me that other kids may have known something, but said nothing. So a clique may have been a factor in this crime.
As violence has gradually swamped the hallways and playgrounds at American schools, the growing brutality against LGBT students right on campus has emerged as a glaring concern for some. When I was a commissioner in LAUSD, bullying and gay-bashing was already a huge issue --and many of these were dropping out of school because of bullying and assaults at school. By 1999 LAUSD’s protective policy was expanded to all of California by AB 222, the Dignity for All Students Act, sponsored by openly lesbian Senator Sheila Kuehl. AB 222 covered gender-variant students as well as gay, lesbian and bi. So technically Lawrence King was shielded by this law.

The religious right have fought tooth and nail to torpedo the state law, along with any district policies protecting LGBT students. Generally the righters want their own kids to be safe at school, but they don’t give a hell about anybody else’s kids – least of all the LGBT kids. National organizations like the Christian Coalition have threatened, lobbied, litigated and interfered directly in district elections and district affairs. Lou Sheldon even had LAUSD’s gay-protective programs investigated by Congress on grounds that they are aimed at “homosexual recruiting.” My fellow LGBT commissioners and I were among those investigated. Congress took no action against the programs, but the religious right are like the Terminator -- they never give up on trying to do you in.
The fact is – when school administrators find bullying going on, they often refuse to see the speeding train coming straight at them. Yet they usually get advance warning on a bully or clique of bullies and who the victim is. But they fail to act immediately -- to suspend the problem students and get them out of the school without any delay. Why? Because they don't want to deal with the angry parents of one bullying kid, or the parents of an entire bullying clique, especially parents with political juice. They also don't want to deal with local church conservatives who insist that protecting LGBT students is equal to saying that homosexuality is OK.
Indeed, it is time for school administrations to stop listening to all the anti-gay churchy fanatics who actually want the threat of death or maiming at school to lie in wait for all the Lawrence Kings out there. The religious right, from Sheldon and other leaders right down to local groups who harass school boards and principals, share a real responsibility for Lawrence King’s death. I view them as the most despicable kind of clique – they are adults with enormous social and political power who egg kids to commit acts of violence by telling them that God hates their victims.
Will King’s assassination prompt a national examination of conscience? Or will it become a footnote -- a lonely memorial of teddy bears and flowers near one school in Ventura County, and a few editorials in the gay press? My prediction is this: if effective steps aren’t taken, King’s murder will be followed by many more. You can count on it.

Truth Wins Out Launches Video Series Exposing Ex-Gay Frauds

My friend Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out ("TWO") are doing a great job at exposing the false and utterly disingenuous claims of the ex-gay “ministries,” which in my opinion are motivated by (1) the money they extract from desperate, trusting and uninformed families with gay children, and (2) the need to maintain the myth that sexual orientation is a choice for the political purposes of the Christian Right in their opposition of LGBT rights and hate crimes protections based on sexual orientation. In short, in my opinion, their motivation is based on cynical political manipulation and greed with little or no regard regard for the damage done to individuals and families. As an interviewee in one of the TWO film clips (I certainly do NOT look my best - Wayne, next time let's use better lighting!) concerning my representation of a client in connection with unmasking prominent ex-gay, Michael Johnston, as a fraud, I fully support exposing these programs. Hopefully, the day will come when they will be shut down by legitimate mental health regulators. I know a number of individuals who were placed in these programs by their families and most have yet to get over the emotional and psychological damage done to them as a result. Here is what Truth Wins Out has to say about the video series and my interview (
NEW YORK – (TWO) introduced seven new Internet videos today featuring a noted clinical psychologist, the attorney who represented a man who had possibly been exposed to HIV from an “ex-gay” leader and several ex-gay survivors. Each week leading up to the March 3 launch of’s updated website, the organization will release new educational videos addressing the “ex-gay” myth from unique angles.
In Aug. 2003, founder Wayne Besen received a call from Virginia attorney Michael Hamar. He had a client who believed he may have been infected with HIV from ‘ex-gay’ leader Michael Johnston. Johnston was the founder of National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day. He was Rev. Jerry Falwell’s personal ex-gay leader. Johnston also starred in a video for the American Family Association, “It’s Not Gay, and an ad for Coral Ridge Ministries. Additionally, he partnered with anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera, who paraded Johnston around and hawked his tale of change. In this exclusive TWO video, we interview Virginia attorney Michael Hamar, who represented one of Johnston’s victims.
The unmasking of Michael Johnston was previously reported in the Southern Voice and its sister publications:

Tuesday Male Beauty

Judge Appointed by George W. Bush Quits after DUI Bust

The Chimperator sure knows how to pick them and given his own past problems with alcohol, the Chimperator no doubt would be sympathetic to Judge Somma’s plight but for the fact that he was busted for DUI while in full drag. Since Halloween is long past, I suspect that excuse will not fly, not to mention that Daddy Dobson and others are probably having fits and writhing on the floor over this. Nothing makes the Christianists foam at the mouth more than the thought of a man wearing a dress and heels. God forbid – Western Civilization might collapse! I cannot help but wondering where the dear judge was going or returning from. Not to mention, what the Hell was he thinking?? Here are some highlights from the Boston Herald (

A 63-year-old Massachusetts federal bankruptcy judge has resigned a week after he was arrested for driving under the influence in New Hampshire while reportedly wearing a woman’s dress, heels and stockings, and carrying a purse. Judge Robert Somma, a Newbury resident, pleaded no contest to the drunken driving charge in New Hampshire and agreed to have his license suspended for 12 months, the Manchester Union Leader reported.

The Union Leader reported yesteday that Somma crashed his Mercedes into the rear of a car stopped on Elm Street after leaving a bar in the city last week. When cops arrived, the paper reported, Somma was wearing a cocktail dress, fishnet stockings, women’s heels and fumbled through a purse for his driver’s license. Somma had a hard time keeping his balance, smelled of alcohol and slurred his speech, the paper reported, citing the Manchester police report. He failed a field sobriety test and took a breath test at the station that registered a blood-alcohol level of .12. He told police he drank two gin and tonics at a Manchester bar. He said he came to New Hampshire because his wife was out of town and nobody knew him in the city, the paper reported.

Reflections From Colette Beighley

In follow up to my post yesterday about her, Colette Beighley submitted a comment that I felt deserved spotlighting since it is very good advice to parents, both in terms of parents with gay children and in terms of all parents in regard to letting your child be he/she is as opposed to who you need them to be for your own comfort zone, ego gratification, etc. As the father of three, I know all too well how hard that can be at times. The difficulty comes in part from wanting to protect them and minimize the "bumps in the road" for them as well as one's own worries and insecurities. Here is Colette's wise counsel:

I just want to say one thing about Billy's comment. Billy said, "It's hard for parents to accept their child as different." So often in parenting we bump up against how our child's way of being in the world impacts our own sense of self. For example: I feel bad and wrong when my child does this behavior which I'm afraid I'll be judged for."

No matter who your child is, each should be treasured for their uniqueness. They deserve that. The work always belongs to the parent. If I'm feeling uncomfortable because my son is holding hands with his boyfriend, that's MY issue -- not his.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist and mother of four, I believe parents need to celebrate their child for who he or she is -- not who the parent NEEDS them to be. In fact, the richness of parenthood is found in doing just that.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More Monday Male Beauty

Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Introduced in Pennsylvania

First Florida, then Arizona, and now Pennsylvania – faced with a potentially disastrous general election in November, the Republicans are once again trotting out wherever possible anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments to induce the wingnut fundies to come out and vote against us Godless faggots. I guess the concept of winning elections based on the quality of a political party’s policies, proposals and ideals (not to mention the concept of treating all citizens equally) are utterly unknown to these folks. Here’s a portion of the bill introduced in Pennsylvania on Valentine’s Day of all days (all but two of the sponsors are Republicans):

No. 1250 Session of 2008

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, providing for marriage between one man and one woman.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby resolves as follows:
Section 1. The following amendment to the Constitution of Pennsylvania is proposed in accordance with Article XI: That Article I be amended by adding a section to read: § 29. Marriage. No union other than a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage or the functional equivalent of marriage by the Commonwealth.

Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

I bookmarked this timely article in the New York Times ( a couple days ago and forgot about it until now. To me, far too many Americans ARE hostile to knowledge, particularly the ultra-conservatives and Christianists who require an ignorant citizenry to successfully peddle their toxic policies and religious views. Not surprisingly, there is an inverse correlation between levels of education and adherence to fundamentalist Christian views – the higher the education level, the fewer fundamentalists. I believe it is one reason that Christian fundamentalism has had a resurgence in the USA. Similarly, the regime of the Chimperator and Emperor Palpatine Cheney has benefited from less educated, knee jerk conservatives, particularly among conservative Christians. A lack of an accurate knowledge of geography and history has also allowed these people to try to re-write the true history of this country and push the “Christian Nation” myth among other disinformation campaigns. Here are highlights from the article:

A popular video on YouTube shows Kellie Pickler, the adorable platinum blonde from “American Idol,” appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?” Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said.

Such, uh, lack of global awareness is the kind of thing that drives Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason,” up a wall. Ms. Jacoby is one of a number of writers with new books that bemoan the state of American culture. Ms. Jacoby, however, is quick to point out that her indictment is not limited by age or ideology. Yes, she knows that eggheads, nerds, bookworms, longhairs, pointy heads, highbrows and know-it-alls have been mocked and dismissed throughout American history. And liberal and conservative writers, from Richard Hofstadter to Allan Bloom, have regularly analyzed the phenomenon and offered advice.

But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way. Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters. She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map.

In part, she lays the blame on a failing educational system. “Although people are going to school more and more years, there’s no evidence that they know more,” she said. Ms. Jacoby also blames religious fundamentalism’s antipathy toward science, as she grieves over surveys that show that nearly two-thirds of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution.

Monday Male Beauty

Profile: Warrior Mom Colette Beighley

I did a post about the Beighley family back in July, 2007, and how Colette [pictured at right in the photo] had rallied to support her gay son, Ari. I received a nice e-mail from Colette when she discovered the post via one of her sons. She has now been spotlighted in an article in the Grand Rapids Press ( It is unfortunate that there are not more mothers like her in terms of loving and accepting their LGBT children. Just ask my blogger friend Java Jones who has taken two gay teens into her home because they had been thrown out by their parents. Not surprisingly, not everyone is supportive of what Colette Beighley is doing, particularly the alleged Christians who use the Bible as an excuse for bigotry and small mindedness. In my view, Colette is a heroine. Here are some story highlights:

A few days after her 16-year-old son, Ari, told her he's gay, Colette Beighley gave him a book, "Coming Out: An Act of Love." He read it, then came downstairs to the kitchen, where his sister was hanging out with a friend. "Thanks, Mom," he told Beighley, then put the book face down on the counter, hiding the title. "I flipped the book over, title facing up," Beighley recalls. "I said, 'Ari, that's not how we're gonna live.'"

Her life hasn't been the same since. Beighley, 50, is the West Michigan field organizer for the Triangle Foundation, Michigan's leading advocacy organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The Detroit-based foundation opened its first-ever office in Grand Rapids a year ago. They didn't interview anyone else for the job, says Sean Kosofsky, Triangle's director of policy. After they heard Beighley's story and saw her passion, he says, they didn't need to.

"She's much more of a warrior mother now," Ari says. "If she sees inequality, she'll go to war for that. She has this sense that what she's doing absolutely has to be done." Beighley has spent the past year getting used to being a public face and voice for a cause that riles a lot of people up. "I've been interviewed a lot of times, but there are stories I've never told," she says. They reveal why she does what she does. It's not just because her son is gay.

They moved to Spring Lake when Ari was 11 months old. David is a Muskegon High School graduate and his family lives in West Michigan. "We thought it would be a lovely place to raise a family," Beighley says. "It is a lovely place to raise a family. Unless your child is gay." In the days after Ari came out, "I went into management mode," Beighley says. "I went to the book store and bought every book on gayness and read them. I sat in the cafe at Schuler Books on Alpine and just wept." She learned about a workshop for families in New Mexico called "The Experience: Coming out Powerfully." "We all got on a plane and went," she says -- David, Colette, Ari, sister Chloe, brother Nathan and his wife, Sarah. Their son Collin couldn't attend, but lent his full support.

"First we told our closest friends," she says. She pauses, looking out her dining room window at the steadily falling snow. "For many, that was the last time we talked to them. "A lot of people hung in there for a while," she says. "Then they wanted us to do something." Do something? "Fix him," she says. "Send him someplace. "I had this belief that once people knew Ari is gay, they'd say, 'I have loved this child his whole life,'" Beighley says. "In this Pollyanna sort of way I thought maybe they would use that opportunity to re-evaluate their beliefs. That it would be an opportunity to see things differently."

In the weeks and months after Ari came out, David, a licensed marriage and family counselor, lost nearly 70 percent of the business at his counseling practice, Beighley Consulting Associates, in Spring Lake. His ministerial license was revoked by the Wesleyan Church. "I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, saying to my husband, 'I only have one path here and that is to be completely out and do it without shame," Beighley says. "I can't be silent about this anymore." She smiles. "If I ever write a book, I'm gonna call it 'Musings from the Bathroom Floor.' "I said to him, 'You may have to make a different choice that honors your faith tradition. And I totally understand if you don't want to go down this road with me. This may be the place where we part."

She is making things happen, says Sean Kosofsky, director of policy at Triangle in Detroit. Beighley works with Concerned Clergy of West Michigan, an organization of supportive pastors and church leaders. She's on the advisory board of the new lesbian and gay resource center at Grand Valley State University. She has befriended state legislators, Kosofsky says, drummed up volunteers and donors and connected with prominent West Michigan people. "She's classy, she's articulate, she's beaming with positive energy," Kosofsky says. "She's a case study for how homophobia can tear apart heterosexuals. What a profound capacity this woman has." Beighley says she would do this work even if she didn't get paid. "This is not a new thing for me," Beighley says. "It's not that suddenly, because my kid is gay, I changed my opinions. But because my kid is gay, I can't be silent."
Here's the link to Colette's blog, Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Gay:

Clinton Fatigue

Perhaps it is because it is early Monday morning and unlike many, I do not have the day off in observance of Presidents Day – the bastardized holiday that no longer takes place on either Washington or Lincoln’s real birth dates. Or maybe I am just in a cranky mood. Whatever the case, I think I am suffering from Clinton fatigue. First I turn on MSNBC in time to see that Hillary attack dog Bill Clinton has had a couple of dust ups with members in the audience where he spoke on behalf of Hillary over the weekend (and his sycophants defend him by alleging that the individuals in the audience were Obama plants). Next, I see in the Washington Post where Hillary’s campaign apparently has just now figured out that the bizarre delegate rules in Texas may make that state less of the “firewall” that she expected. Duhhhh, the rules have been in place for roughly 20 years – as in BEFORE Bill ran for president.. Her campaign just figured this out? For a candidate who claims she will be the most competent and ready to govern from day one, her campaign staff seems to be made up of imbeciles. Here are some highlights from the Post (

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest. Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state's unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

The disparity in delegate distribution is just one of the unusual aspects of Texas's complex system for apportioning delegates. The scheme has been in use for two decades but is coming under increased scrutiny because the March 4 presidential contest is the first in years that gives the state a potentially decisive voice in choosing the party's nominee.

This telling comment on the blog, Obsidian Wings pretty much says it all (

While they were busy “discovering” the rules, however, the Obama campaign had people on the ground in Texas explaining the system, organizing precincts, and making Powerpoints. I know because I went to one of these meetings a week ago. I should have invited Mark Penn I suppose. (ed. Maybe foresight is an obsolete macrotrend.) In this respect, Texas is simply a microcosm of the larger campaign dynamics. In fact, if the Clinton campaign were a corporation, the shareholders would have pretty good grounds for a derivative suit for Texas alone.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Exorcisms in Big Demand in Queensland, Australia

I like to think that folks in Australia are less crazy than us Americans when it comes to having large scale fundamentalist Christian lunacy, but apparently not - at least not among Queensland Catholics (Magic Bellybutton, if you read this post, please tell me this isn’t so). As the Brisbane Courier Mail is reporting (,23739,23223768-3102,00.html) according to the Roman Catholic Church there has been a large increase in requests for exorcisms across Queensland. Is it just me, or do these fundies appear to be getting even more seriously unhinged? I mean, this is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages. Here are some story highlights:

The Catholic Church has revealed how growing interest in Satanism and the occult has led to a rise in exorcisms across Queensland. One priest, who asked not to be named for fear of "reprisals", said he was carrying out at least one exorcism a fortnight. More requests for exorcisms came from the Gold Coast than anywhere else. An exorcism involves holy water, sacrament and Bible reading and can go on for many hours, the priest said.

"Being possessed by a demon is terrifying in one's mental and emotional life," he said. "Some of these manifestations are extremely powerful, causing people to be plagued by disturbances. They hear voices and see hideous creatures in their sleep. "There has been a recruitment of pagan practices, and it's sheer poison. "The Gold Coast is not good at all. I do far more exorcisms there than Brisbane."

Father Amorth said: "Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the devil. You have to hunt high and low for a proper, trained exorcist." Queensland Catholic priests can carry out exorcisms only if they have been authorised by an archbishop. The priest source, who is based in Brisbane, is the only one permitted to do exorcisms in the state. He said he had travelled to Rockhampton, Cairns, Townsville and Toowoomba to save people. He said one woman he had met had been plagued by demonic manifestations since taking part in a playground witch game as a child.

Canadian Ex-gay Therapist Convicted on Sexual Assault

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that I am very much against reparative therapy and the bogus claims that gays can “change” their sexual orientation. Having tried myself for 37 years, I know the claims are utter bull shit. If I had my way, all of these quack programs would be shut down. Thus, except for what happened to the victim, I find it hilarious that a minister and former Christian college instructor has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a young man who sought counseling after he feared he was homosexual. It seems that the therapist wasn’t all too cured himself. My friend Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight, Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth ( should love this story! Here are some highlights from last Thursday's Winnipeg Sun (

Crown attorney Dale Schille said the evidence against Lewis was “overwhelming” and he never denied the allegations in a statement to police. In earlier testimony, the alleged victim, now 29, told court he started meeting Lewis for counseling sessions in early 2000 after his parents caught him viewing gay pornography on the family computer. Lewis — a family friend and minister — confided he had his own sexual identity issues and the two embarked on weekly counseling sessions designed to “assist me to be straight and to live a straight life,” the man said.

The man said Lewis started a program of “touch therapy,” which included the two kissing and fondling each other and engaging in sexual role playing. “He said I was to tell no one about it because no one would understand,” the man testified. During “touch therapy” sessions in Lewis’ car, Lewis asked him to masturbate, the man said. Lewis also admitted to fantasizing about him, the man said.

A jury returned with the guilty verdict early last night after only a few hours of deliberations. Terrance Lewis, 60, will be sentenced at a later date.